Saturday, June 28, 2008

Saturday June 28, 4:58 p.m.

Finished up with my three students today. But it looks like my schedule is gonna get pretty busy...and in the summer, too. I've got a few more model lessons to try out, including two back-to-back next Thursday.

And I just heard a collision outside of the building. Some motor scooter did a back-end collision with a van. From my vantage point, the poor kid riding the scooter looks to be in excruciating pain right now. I gather that getting thrown headfirst into a van at something over 10 km/h can do that to one. BC was able to hail an ambulance and the paramedics are taking care of him now.

Looks like I've got an eternal fan in the form of The Bostonian. She needed some help on some sort of announcement that has to be made for the foreign employees. Nothing too serious but she took it like I had just defused a nuclear bomb on her leg. She said she would show her PowerPoint printout to me next time in gratitude. I offered to sign it.

Then, I got that model student with that huge TOEIC score of 950...virtually perfect. He's quite a talker, too. Well, I guess I impressed him enough too. He's become another new addition to the flock. And henceforth, he'll be The Talker.

I hadn't seen The Dentist in a few weeks. Still jolly as always. Her daughter apparently has an account on Facebook. I'll have to take a look.

I was briefly introduced to yet another model lesson student. She's a friend of The Dentist who handles makeup and hair for a lot of location shoots. So, she's pretty connected to show business. Speedy swooned half-jokingly about getting some of her celeb friends as potential students. I thought I would've been the miha one.

Well, it looks like the ambulance has gone, and now the police are interviewing the poor guy who was driving the van.

Tomorrow is Indy!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Saturday June 28, 11:47 a.m.

Back at Speedy's. I thought I would beat everyone to the punch and be the first one in, but BC had actually gotten in before me. When I remarked about it to her, she just gave a nonchalant "Ah, so?" Whatever...anyways, I shared a doughnut with her from La Vie Du France. Why even mention it? Well, since it was yeast-raised. Until the invasion of Krispy Kreme almost 2 years ago, doughnuts in Japan were all of the Mister Donuts variety: cake donuts. Not that I have anything against cake donuts: a sweet is a sweet, after all. But yeast-raised donuts have become one of the biggest culinary revelations in this pop-culture-obsessed country since the coming of tiramisu 17 years ago. Now, with KK firmly taking hold, at least in the Kanto area, some of the other bakeries are probably getting into the act. And hopefully that will mean somewhat saner lineups at the 4 branches of Krispy Kreme.

I've got The Bostonian in about 25 minutes and then things will go pretty quickly. I've got another model lesson about 15 minutes after The Bostonian's done, and then The Dentist comes in some 45 minutes after that lesson. Luckily, The Businesswoman and Slim did cancel. Otherwise, I would've been ready for that stretcher.

I tried to give the juku boss' line-ridden monitor a bit of a quick fix-it, thanks to GC's suggestions. But the active screensaver didn't do anything. I asked the boss to unplug everything for the night, including the connection between the monitor and the hard drive. Maybe that could do the trick, but I've got a feeling that it probably won't mean a thing. She did say that her computer is 8 years old. In human years, that would put it firmly in geriatric status..
Friday June 27, 8:32 p.m.

Pretty easy day today since I only have a couple of classes. I had The New Yorker up in Ichigaya. She had a great time in Okinawa. I got the usual chinsuko cookies as a souvenir. Her English is still pretty low, though. I've got The Ace in about 25 minutes. Over the past week, I've been showing the photos of my ordeal under the mikoshi from The Urayasu Festival almost a couple of weeks ago. Keep 'em laughing, I say.

Looks like that guy from the model lesson last week has decided to sign up after all. Hopefully, he'll be like The Yogist...pretty teeth-pulling model lesson, followed by some fine regular classes. He'll be labeled The Pessimist, since that is how he tagged himself last week. Not the best moniker for an English student but it's easy to remember. I don't know too many students who have admitted to being pessimistic. Anyways, he'll officially be starting with us from Wednesday. It looks like Hump Day will be back.

As I may have mentioned, the juku boss' computer has been getting annoying vertical lines cutting through the monitor. I sent out an SOS to GC who came back with some potential remedies which I'll try out as soon as I finish here.

We're approaching July now but the weather has been pretty comfortable, so far. Warm days and cool nights. Not sure how long that will last into the next month.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday June 26, 10:04 p.m.

After a day that started 12 hours ago, I'm done like dinner. I finished up with Slim a half-hour ago. He'll be busy on Saturday presenting a new computer system so he won't be coming in.

I've just been going through the various Genkirockets videos on YouTube. I gotta admit that it's awfully hard for me to believe that Lumi is a virtual character. She's probably the most (photo)realistic person I've ever seen depicted on the screen. Even though her lone narration for one of the videos has some notes of artificiality, it's still pulled off jaw-droppingly well. If this is indeed the future, then we may see a real holodeck within the next few decades.
Thursday June 26, 8:01 p.m.

The lesson with The Carolinan was pretty laid back. Apparently, she and The New Yorker went to some Hawaiian festival at Roppongi Hills last week, and then off to an Okinawan place for dinner. The sisters do love their tropics.

BC's gone home, so it's just Speedy and myself. He's munching his own McMeal now since he didn't have time earlier in the day. Just waiting for Slim in about 30 minutes. It looks now like Saturday won't be the Hump Day of the week after all. The Businesswoman and Slim have canned their lessons for that day, so it'll just be The Bostonian, another model lesson, and The Dentist. Still, for a Saturday, it's pretty busy.

Skippy finally nailed down the time and place to catch the latest Indiana Jones movie. It won't be one of those newfangled theatres, although it'll still be in Shinjuku. I guess that she's gotten tired of playing concierge with us. Instead, it'll be one of the old-fashioned wait-in-line-to-buy-your-ticket places in Kabukicho. The review in METROPOLIS was pretty middling. He liked Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett but found the movie a case of over deja vu. I kinda figured that would have been the biggest slam against it...a Lucasfilm reaction to mid-life crisis. Just dipping for past glories from a couple of decades back. Well, I'll just have to check this line out.
Thursday June 26, 5:11 p.m.

Currently digesting my coupon-bought Mac Cheeseburger set with McNuggets. Yes, my lifetime can now be counted in mere years rather than decades.

The Yogist was uncharacteristically late by a good 45 minutes. Apparently, the lass lost track of time trying to find a dress for her friend's wedding party in Shinjuku. She didn't lose any of her usual effervescence, though. And her loyalty is commendable; she's booked for the next 5 Thursdays. Then, an hour later, The Nurse came in for her 60. Not surprisingly, the topics tended to weave around food.

Speedy was gonna join me in the Mac coupon spree but he got bogged down with a counseling session. And then, there was another sudden buzz from the 1st floor enterphone, but it wasn't from a potential client but from the superintendant. Usually, he's a pretty mild button-down sort but I guess he got fed up of being the doorman for our school; recently, a lot of clients have been coming to the school (great for our business) asking him for directions. I was only privy to Speedy's side of the conversation but he told me that he'd gotten a bit of a chewout from the super and was asked to give clearer directions to students in the future. I don't think that's quite fair; even if students are given maps, they still tend to confirm their bearings and the super is the best source.

Found out from BC that that Gherkin Building in the heart of West Shinjuku is gonna be the HQ of a design school. I'd say considering the futuristic look of the place, the design school got it right. Speaking of our depressed employee, she and her friend will be heading for Korea for a bit of R&R next week. Hopefully, the trip will help her spirits somewhat. Even when I mentioned the small fact that both The Carolinan and I were a bit concerned for her, she started welling up. Man...

Well, got The Carolinan coming up here within the next 30 minutes and then it'll be Slim to wrap up. Hopefully, The Carolinan won't be asking the super for instructions.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thursday June 26, 11:54 a.m.

Luckily, Grandma Dynamite was full of her nickname today unlike last week. Speedy apparently warmed her up nicely by just gabbing with her...fine with me.

The bizarre crimes just keep popping up like a bad yen this year. A couple of days ago, a grandfather decided to pull off a first strike and exterminated his entire family up in Kashiwa, Chiba, just north of my little burg. It was incredible...this 77-year-old sociopath first hammered his wife to death, and then summoned his son and daughter-in-law separately to their deaths before taking care of his granddaughter. The media and police are pretty slow in giving out motives but Grandpa Psycho may have been triggered by his (late) wife's barb about him being a burden to the family.

And so it is with some surprise that I read that not only Fukuoka City got top marks as World's Most Livable City but Tokyo came up to 3rd place! And this is considering that 2008 will probably go down as the year of the spree killing in the world's biggest metropolis. I'll have to check the website for Fukuoka...but when I first read the news on The Japan Times website, I kinda blurted out the first three letters of the city.
Thursday June 26, 10:11 a.m.

Not very much time to write this entry so it'll be short. Grandma Dynamite is cackling away in the next room with Speedy, so I assume she's over her attack of head and gas from last week. However, I'm feeling pretty tired since I only got 5 hours of sleep due to the late-running model lesson last night to wrap up. I'm gonna have to be wary of taking model lessons on Wednesday nights after The Diver. Both lessons are energy-sapping. But the lesson student looked promising although she said that she was looking at other English schools. She's a fashion designer of some experience in Aoyama, and she looks the part: smart-looking, whip-thin, manicured nails with a wool beret to top it all off. Plus, she has a passing resemblance to that lead singer from Shibuya-kei unit Pizzicato Five. Pretty fluent but there are a lot of holes to patch up in that cool mosaic.

It's raining that ol' Supertramp song goes. Ended up spending nearly 2 hours in McDonalds since I no longer have the extra keys to the school, so it's back absorbing tons of smoke into my clothes. I did Febreeze myself off but smoke is pretty stubborn stuff.

The Big Lug did cancel his lesson for today but it'll still be a fairly busy day with five. Grandma Dynamite, The Yogist, The Nurse, The Carolinan coming in and Slim to wrap up. I haven't had time to prep for any of the lessons but today's lineup is pretty easy to get ready for, so I'm not panicking quite yet.

Speedy seems to be going a bit of overtime with Grandma Dynamite...maybe she came in late this morning.
Wednesday June 25, 5:45 p.m.

Well, you can colour me shocked. Just found out that one of those bands I'd mentioned in the last entry, Genkirockets, is a CG concoction. The "lead singer", Lumi, whom I've seen in a video is an amalgam of a number of female singers. The names of these ladies have been kept more secret than a gold bar in Fort Knox.

I just read that some enterprising fellow in the States has cottoned on to the supposed insanity (or just plain inanity) of Japanese game shows and have brought his own take on them. The thing is that the contestants back Stateside are just regular folk while the victims in the original game shows are tarento....or professional pratfall targets. I have a bad feeling about this. So I guess "The Simpsons" won't have that Mexican bee guy to push around anymore.
Wednesday June 25, 4:21 p.m.

Well, 6 months before Xmas, and I've already started looking at Air for tickets home in December. I was checking my Aeroplan points and was probably laughed at when I looked to see the chances of me getting some deduction in the inevitably huge cash outlay.

This morning, I finally got a chance to try out the newest and final subway line that Tokyo Metro will ever build, The Fukutoshin Line starting from Shibuya and ranging to Ikebukuro and beyond. It was set up to ease some of the burden on the local JR lines of Yamanote and Saikyo which are usually packed to the gills during rush hours. When I got off of the venerable Ginza Line, I made a long trek toward the west to get to this new line. I thought I was gonna end up in Daikanyama when I finally saw the lift heading deep underground for the Futokushin. Of course, there was a McDonalds sign just by the lift and I could catch a soupcon of the whiff of Le Mac Gros.

As I got to the Futokushin platform, I remembered last week's episode of Tamori Club, the late-night Friday program starring Japan's answer to Johnny Carson, Kazuyoshi "Tamori" Morita. He and a bunch of subway-loving comedians and members of an acapella group were given a tour of the line before it opened up on the 14th. Obviously back then, it was devoid of human activity. I could see that it was still pretty barren...surprising for anyplace in Shibuya. It had that new subway smell to it...the same went with the local train I got on. I got off a couple of stops later at Kitasando. The subway station there was virtually deserted...not surprising when I got topside. There was pretty much nothing except for Meiji Street between Shibuya and Shinjuku. I ended up just having lunch at the Subway across the street. The station looked brand-spanking new and untouched by human hands. Kitasando will probably remain devoid of life for the foreseeable future until the area itself gets more developed. METROPOLIS magazine did a feature on the line a few weeks ago and only noted for Kitasando that it was the location of the Japan Communist Party HQ. When that's the only remarkable landmark, you just know that the area won't be a real happening place.

I had much better luck when I got off a few stations later at Nishi-Waseda. It's ideally located by one of the campuses for Waseda University and is surrounded by the neighbourhoods of Korean-influenced Okubo and the student enclave of Takadanobaba. The "feel" of the area was neither traditional Japanese a la Asakusa or modern Japanese a la Odaiba. It seemed like an inner-city neighbourhood out of any Asian city such as Taipei or Hong Kong. There were blocky apartment buildings of varying heights and ages overlooking quite a plethora of Chinese and Indian restaurants, all selling various lunch specials for reasonable prices. Kinda regretted not having lunch there but I'll be back. There was even a Big Boy...maybe the only one in Japan. Of course, since it was around noon when I got there, I saw a lot of young'uns walking and sitting at the restaurants with Waseda University and Gakushuin Women's University situated nearby. I knew I wasn't too far away from Shinjuku since I could see the pearly green building that was Marui City off in the distance. I went as far south as Okubo before I made a U-turn and went off into the other direction toward Ikebukuro. Off in that direction, I could see the Sunshine 60 Building, one of that area's venerable landmarks.

Within about 10 minutes, I made my way to Takadanobaba. It was a very pleasant walk toward JR Takadanobaba and the Tozai Line. Again, a lot of restaurants suited for the poor student set, and I even went into a couple of secondhand CD stores. There were some full albums selling for just 700 yen...truly a bargain. I also noticed that there were a lot of real estate agencies renting 1K rooms for as little as 30,000 yen a month. Definitely student-oriented. If I weren't so poor and spoiled on 2K living, I would be very tempted to see about living there.

I popped back on the train after more than an hour of solid walking and ended up at Shinjuku San-chome station, deep in the heart of East Shinjuku. If there were true winners due to the construction of this line, they would be the folks working in this area. They can just hop onto the Fukutoshin and get into Shibuya within 4 minutes. Previously, they would've had to walk over to JR Shinjuku and fight the scrum that always populates the area around the ticket machines and gates to get onto the Yamanote Line. Other than that, it would've meant at least one transfer on the subways. Of course, walking through Tokyo Metro always means walking through long and wide corridors underground for several minutes. Such was the case at Shinjuku San-chome, although I could imagine that the underground corridors will be a cool refuge within a couple of months. I was pleasantly surprised that the corridors made it all the way to underneath Takashimaya Times Square. Ended up getting into Kinokuniya Supermarket in B1.

Takashimaya Times Square meant that I visited HMV on the 12th floor. Listened to a few of these new girl units that have fallen in love with the vocoder as a vital part of their performance. Of course, the biggest of these units is Perfume, a trio of vaguely Goth-Loli girls with the hit, "Polyrhythm". And then there were the other units known as Genkirockets and Plastic Love.

I continued my trek through Shinjuku by crossing the pedestrian bridge away from Times Square. I saw that Krispy Kreme #1 no longer had multi-hour wait times but there were still folks willing to wait 35 minutes for fried cholesterol. The last thing I wanted to see was that little brother to London's Gherkin Building. It turned out that it was still not completed. The main shell was done but there were still plenty of workmen and scaffolding at ground level.

Finally, I'm back here at Speedy's. I've got another model lesson later into July. Tonight, it's 001, The Diver and that model lesson. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tuesday June 24, 7:25 p.m.

Well, Suzanne is back in the house, and boy, did she have some drama to tell me after her 2 weeks in Oz.

For one thing, her host family was not much of one...pretty irresponsible, really. The man and his pregnant wife only saw her twice during her whole time there. But, Suzanne, with a laid-back aplomb, basically made lemonade from lemons and managed to fend for herself in a foreign land quite well. In fact, she may have done the thing that a lot of boyfriends are terrified of....she matured. Suzanne said that she used to be the dependent one on her boyfriend for everything from dinner plans to other things that couples do. Well, not anymore, and the result is that her boo is crying boo-hoo, and now she's at a crossroads about their relationship. To add a further dimension, she apparently met this rather comely young Australian during her time there who may have the hots for her. She's not quite sure what to make of the situation. Apparently, I seem to be the only one she could tell all this to; she hasn't told any of her family, boyfriend and even her female friends. I was definitely wearing the therapist's cap with her tonight.

I guess it's a foregone conclusion that Suzanne will be coming back for more from next week.

At the other end of the city, at Speedy's, Mr. TOEIC suddenly decided to book a lesson tonight there which had the bossman frantically calling me about what needed to be taught. I did get the green light to bring over The Carolinan once more to the school. And The Big Lug has re-scheduled for the 4th of July.

Still in a holding pattern concerning that model lesson student...The Londoner...from last Friday. In any case, whether she does sign up for lessons now or in 3 months, the juku boss has told me that the earliest she will start is in July.

In other news, NOVA ex-President, Nozomu Saruhashi, may be getting slapped with some further charges of non-payment of wages to teachers. Not sure where he's hiding out but his lawyers are doing the talking for him.

Well, it looks like I got most of Wednesday free, so I'll be taking a look at that new subway line, The Fukutoshin which ranges from Shibuya to Ikebukuro...provided that there aren't any more accidents there. It seems to have undergone the lion's share of growing pains in the first week of its existence. I might take a look at Kitasando and Nishi-Waseda and see what's out there.
Tuesday June 24, 4:09 p.m.

A hot one today...about 28 C; quite a contrast with yesterday's squalls and cool temps. This is probably the first truly summery day of the season.

Met up with The Beehive. Mrs. Tee finally showed up so I was able to unload my mother's present unto her, more than a month after Mom had given it to me. Mrs. Tee looked lighter but it was more from her hectic schedule than any intentional diet or exercise. As for Mrs. Travel, she came back from Sedona, Arizona with some great shots of the mesa-filled desert. Unfortunately, considering her status as a veteran traveler, she's yet to master the niceties of tipping.

Looks like The Big Lug has canned for Thursday which leaves some breathing room between The Nurse and The Carolinan. BC picked up the phone which I was a bit surprised about. When I asked her how she was, she replied with no great joy, "Surviving".

Supposedly, Suzanne will be here tonight followed by The Milds and then Jolly. Again, I always gotta be on my toes whether or not Jolly actually shows up or does a dotyakan.

There has been a similar attack to The Akihabara Massacre in Osaka over the weekend. However, luckily, three women were only slightly injured. Some psychotic woman apparently used a knife to slash them on the platform of a train station. She managed to escape but was hunted down by police after someone recognized her on TV. So far, she's been spouting gibberish. Straitjacket for one, please. Still, this does bring up the thought about when and where the next attack will take place in a crowded area.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday June 23, 10:40 p.m.

And thus another programming day comes to an end. Just finished up with Medicine Man after his conference in Malaysia. Got a nice box of chocolate truffles as a souvenir...always better than, if not as healthy as, an apple. His mind is a bit sieve-like when it comes to movies; but I'm not one to lord it over him since my mind has definitely developed a few ozone holes in the past decade.

Looks like that new interview is a lock. But she'll just be covering a couple of nights. We still need that full-timer to take over for BC during the days...the major-domo to Speedy.

Gotta head home....
Monday June 23, 8:58 p.m.

Just had Slim for his lesson. Really nice guy, that Slim. Helped him with his small talk for an upcoming international party he has to attend next Saturday. Plus, he's had to cancel his lesson for this upcoming Saturday because he has to oversee the cutting in of a new system that he personally knows that won't need his supervision. It's something that George Carlin probably has made hay of, and so I segue into his life and times. I remember seeing him hosting the very first episode of "Saturday Night Live" and some of his routines although I've yet to see his most famous (or notorious) routine of those 7 words you can't say on TV. Again, like the late Tim Russert, he probably has a share of his naysayers who don't regret his passing too much. Interestingly, a lot of them probably hail from Las Vegas.
Monday June 23, 7:21 p.m.

Timing is everything...within and without an English lesson. About 10 minutes into The Full-Timer's lesson at the coffee shop, the clouds suddenly threw down buckets of precipitation in what was one of the most loaded squalls I'd ever seen. And as we were leaving, the rain had trickled into a more manageable steady sprinkle. Ordinarily, I would be worried about any other student heading this way, but since Slim is literally down the street, he'll be here in no time.

Looks like the era of BC is starting its close. The bossman is currently interviewing a potential young staffer. Sounds as if she's on the ball.

I'm not a huge Amy Winehouse fan...only know her from her ironically titled "Rehab". Why am I getting the feeling that she's heading the way of Janis Joplin and Elvis Presley? But then again, all of the media types were virtually reading obituaries for Britney Spears. And not only is she still alive, but she's just become an aunt...of a girl whose mother isn't even ready to vote.
Monday June 23, 5:27 p.m.

Kinda rushing through this since I see The Full-Timer in about half an hour...I've got everything prepped but the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup must be fueling the sugar rush.

In the past couple of days, I've been feasting on turtle jelly, that dessert delicacy from Hong Kong. I had been given it by The Lady last Monday after one of her frequent visits there. For a guy like me who won't get anywhere near natto (too slimy and smelly), tororo (looks and tastes like rabies spit) and uni (which planet is that from?), I'm oddly all right with this black jello created with powder from ground-up turtle shell that tastes like medicine. One reason is that I get a couple of small packs of liquid brown sugar to add to it which makes it quite tasty. No such luck with the noxious stuff I'd just mentioned.

The bossman is currently giving a model lesson to The Dentist's buddy...a person who, despite a fairly good comprehension, is still low on the level of the Grandmas. Speedy, of course, would like me to teach him. Oy vey!

GC sent me the latest excerpt from the 4th season of "Doctor Who" via Facebook. It pretty much ties up the Rose/Doctor love story in one big spoiler. Not miffed that I now know the ending since I'm not the type to get worked up about such things. But at least, I'm happy to know all that moping that David Tennant's Doctor will finally be rid of. I like my Doctors nice and asexual.

Just heard that George Carlin has passed on. He was one of the fathers of observational comedy.
Monday June 23, 4:35 p.m.

Well, the dreaded continuation of yesterday's meterological cats and dogs has yet to show up, thankfully. I have the collapsible umbrella with me but fortunately, it's just been cloudy and slightly humid.

Just had The Class Act and SIL for their regulars but next week, they'll all be off which will mean a very leisurely Monday. Speaking of which, at this point, Hump Day will be largely humpless since I don't have anything til 001 on Wednesday night. Tomorrow will be the usual schedule with The Beehive, 002 and then the juku crowd. Suzanne may or may not be back at the leadoff spot.

In tribute to Saturday's arrival of the new "Indiana Jones" movie, the networks have been showing the previous three from a couple of decades ago. Yesterday was the original, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" which is, not surprisingly, the closest in tribute to the swashbuckling movies of the 30s.